x10 Focus Issue
  • I posted this question on dpreview and I thought I would try here to get more feedback before I make a decision to return my camera. I find myself sharpening my photos way more than should be necessary to get an image that "pops". I know comparing my old D70 to the x10 is flawed logic, I can't help but notice that the Panasonic LX-5, or the Olympus XZ-1 seem to have the crispness that I am looking for. I am on my second x10 camera, as the first had dust in the lens and would not turn on properly. My second x10 seems to be as soft as the first.

    I am thinking that it has to be the different pixel array than a Bayer sensor. I even tried to be disciplined in composing my shots and finding proper lighting, etc. About 90% of the time the photos are processed enough to barely pass my standard of sharpness, but I can't help but feel like I am fighting the camera at times. Maybe I don't understand focus modes metering? Maybe I don't understand DOF when it comes to portraits? I am pulling my hair out on this one and not getting the results.

    Typical x10 photo, heavily processed to sharpen.



    What I was used to with the D70.

  • kiwikiwi
    Posts: 460
    With a thread like this it would be really helpful to others if you could post more detailed information about the photo(s) in question.

    Do you shoot RAW or Jpeg? If RAW what program are you using to pp?
    What camera settings are you using? Are you using the default "P" or are you using something like A or S and if so what are your in camera sharpness settings.
    Are you using any sort of DR?
    Nobody could provide sensible specific answers to your question without more information.

    BTW: The Exif on you X10 image says that it was taken on 28 December 2011. Does that mean it's the first or second X10 you owned?
  • I shoot JPG most of the time. The x10 image above is JPG. I use Lightroom 3.6 and PaintshopPro x4 on occassion. The above image was processed in Light room. The x10 image above was in EXR mode, but I have tried PASM with no improvements. I have tried all in camera sharpness settings but currently use medium-hard and sharpen more from there in Lightroom. I will sharpen to 40-50 in Lightroom. The image was taken with the first x10 that I owned. I use DR400 in PASM when in bright or sunny conditions.

    Oh thanks for suggesting more detail. I guess most of us are not mind readers.... :)
  • WilzWorkz7WilzWorkz7
    Posts: 1,761
    A before and after editing would be helpful. Post processed pictures can't help to decipher the problem areas as it was corrected.
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  • kiwikiwi
    Posts: 460
    To be honest I'm struggling to see the problem. The first photo could probably do with having the left side cropped but you will have to point out the specific sharpness issues to me at least.
  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    first looks pretty sharp to me, hard to tell at the resized res but over-sharpedned if anything
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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    Agree with Matt. You must be very careful about sharpening--it deadens/dulls shots quickly. Photos rarely "pop" because of sharpness, but rather because of composition, lighting, subject matter itself. NO photo is ever memorable because of "sharpness"... As kiwi notes, the first shot would be stronger with the green shirt on the left cropped out. I'd have also played with the f/stop. For instance, the carpet on the stairs is as sharp as the faces, not a pleasant thing. I'd have set the camera to f/2 or 2.8 and tried to blur/soften the background. A lot of these issues seem to be driven by technique.
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  • It's hard to get a handle on what you're saying here, for me anyway. Sharpness is a relative thing and it's gearhead, computer-bound 'photographers' who would go to an exhibition and look at prints from just a few inches away! 100% detail on-screen can lead us away from the very essence of photography and what makes a good image work.

    How do we display our images for others to see? Online? Then what's the chance of seeing critical sharpness, lens resolution and contrast, the precise resolving power of the best sensors out there? Even sweating about all this in prints misses the point.

    Portraits? Focus on the eyes and think about composition. This is a nice shot, but yes, it looks over-sharpened. Faces don't sharpen well, and global sharpening is often a bad idea because different sharpening methods affect textures and details in different ways.

    Maybe get quality prints made and view from the proper distance? I'd bet they would look fine.

    The baby shot is excellent!
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  • kiwi said:

    To be honest I'm struggling to see the problem. The first photo could probably do with having the left side cropped but you will have to point out the specific sharpness issues to me at least.



    I think that part of the issue is that I get inconsistent results with the camera. The camera shines with close up photos with my kids and macros. Family photos, pets, landscapes, etc do not seem as sharp to me. I will experiment some more with different aperture settings and ISO. The x10 photo above is soft when viewed as an 8 inch by 10 inch print. Thanks for the feedback. I will keep on trying.
  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992

    The x10 photo above is soft when viewed as an 8 inch by 10 inch print.


    Im guessing id be stupid to suggest you look at your prints? Is it the printer? The method of printing?
    THat top one looks very sharp to me.
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  • kiwikiwi
    Posts: 460
    pcg said:

    I'd have also played with the f/stop. For instance, the carpet on the stairs is as sharp as the faces, not a pleasant thing. I'd have set the camera to f/2 or 2.8 and tried to blur/soften the background. A lot of these issues seem to be driven by technique.



    The Exif says that that photo was taken at F2.8.
    Don't forget that the X10 has huge DOF compared to the equivalent aperture on a DSLR.

  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    Amazing. And that photo is a perfect example of the crazy DOF at 2.8. Okay, I sure stand corrected.
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  • mattmaber said:

    The x10 photo above is soft when viewed as an 8 inch by 10 inch print.


    Im guessing id be stupid to suggest you look at your prints? Is it the printer? The method of printing?
    THat top one looks very sharp to me.


    I did print both of the above photos and it was no contest. The D70 photo got many compliments over the x10 photo. I really do like this camera and I don't want to return it, but I sort of feel like I am missing something. I maybe asking too much from a smaller sensor point and shoot.

    I made a decision today to keep the camera. Maybe the learning curve will kick in.
  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    You need to be zooming with the X10 to get the great DoF, no?
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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    And remember that if the D70 photo got more compliments, it could be that the composition is far superior. Simplicity rules, and the shot of the twosome on the stairs is not as visually satisfying, regardless of sharpness issues.
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  • kiwikiwi
    Posts: 460


    The D70 photo got many compliments over the x10 photo.



    Frankly I'm not surprised the D70 photo is a nicely composed portrait the X10 photo is very, very ordinary from a compositional point of view. When most people compliment or comment on a printed photo they are commenting on the composition not the detail and in this case the D70 would be a clear winner even if it were taken with a cheap p&s.
    It sounds to me that you are trying to find reasons to dispose of the X10 so my advice is just to do it. If you don't like the camera or can't get used to it then you are wasting your time persisting with it.

  • Seems like I irritated you kiwi. I mentioned in an earlier post that I decided to keep the camera, even though it seems that I have to "fight" the camera every once in a while. I like tack sharp photos and I don't seem to get them as often as I want. Hopefully, experience and experimenting will allow me to find the sweet spot. I beleive the x10 has a lot to offer, I am trying to find away to work with what Ive got. I do believe that part of the problem lies within myself as I have been spoiled by a larger sensor.
  • WillHWillH
    Posts: 404
    I dunno dbarnerr66. Read some of your stuff on DPR. Comparing the X10 to the D70!? Maximum enlargement for the X10 is probably 8x10. Perhaps 9x16 tops! I'm not clear on what you're trying to say.....
    Here's a late afternoon shot I had enlarged to 8x10 an it's beautiful. No PP, just straight outta the camera.

    DSCF0659
  • kiwikiwi
    Posts: 460

    Seems like I irritated you kiwi.



    No you didn't irritate me and sorry I forgot that you had said you were keeping the camera.
    I was simply saying that using comments on those two photos as a reason to criticise the X10 is not a valid point. If you are going to use that approach then try to take two similar photos one with each camera and see what happens.

  • WillH said:

    I dunno dbarnerr66. Read some of your stuff on DPR. Comparing the X10 to the D70!? Maximum enlargement for the X10 is probably 8x10. Perhaps 9x16 tops! I'm not clear on what you're trying to say.....
    Here's a late afternoon shot I had enlarged to 8x10 an it's beautiful. No PP, just straight outta the camera.

    DSCF0659



    I thought hard about comparing the D70 to the x10, so I recently compared some of my old Fuji s602 shots and there seems to be more sharpened images than what I am currently seeing in the x10 too. The x10 doesn't give me poor results, it just seems that my images are flat with no pop to them. I will post some old photos of the s602 that "wow" me to give all of you a better idea of what I am looking for.

    I have printed 20x30 inch prints from a Fuji s602z so you might be surprised on the results. I am going to try a 20x30 inch print from x10 when the right photo comes along. Many people compliment the 20x30 from s602z to this very day.

    BTW, I love the landscape image!

  • I went back an looked over my Fuji s602 images for a solid hour and compared them to my x10. I guess I owe everyone an apology as I was comparing the D70 sensor to the x10, which is not fair. Here is an old s602 image taken back in March 2005:



    Here is a recent x10 image that I was happy with.

    image
    Here is a photo that a enlarged to 20x30 inches and it came from a Fuji s602z. I feel the x10 can match or slightly better the result that I obtained a few years back.

    image
  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    that first shot of the kid is compositionally MUCH better than the second. - imho
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  • cosinaphilecosinaphile
    Posts: 1,063
    good call, they are in different leagues ,1st ones great
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  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    is it possible that the first is also at a longer zoom than the second? thereby making DoF more pronounced
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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    Again, as we've said several times in this thread, composition rules. Sharpness is a minor attribute. Spend some time looking at photos by HCB and Callahan. Neither of these masters obsessed about sharpness. HCB in fact was obsessed with composition, particularly the internal geometry of images.

    Discussing "sharpness" is a distraction of the highest level. Walk away from it, as it's blinding you to what good shots are all about. Sorry to be frank.
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  • pcg said:

    Again, as we've said several times in this thread, composition rules. Sharpness is a minor attribute. Spend some time looking at photos by HCB and Callahan. Neither of these masters obsessed about sharpness. HCB in fact was obsessed with composition, particularly the internal geometry of images.

    Discussing "sharpness" is a distraction of the highest level. Walk away from it, as it's blinding you to what good shots are all about. Sorry to be frank.



    No need to be sorry. I come here to learn and I value others opinions. It keeps an open mind to make progress. Thanks for the feedback.
  • dbarnett: I've experienced this issue as well. The camera will indicate perfect focus with a shutter button half-push, and certainly the LCD image looks perfect but....the actual image upon review looks soft. It's almost like at some split second, when I go for the full push, it changes focus somehow. The images are still useable though.
  • kiwikiwi
    Posts: 460
    pcg said:

    Again, as we've said several times in this thread, composition rules. Sharpness is a minor attribute.



    +1
    The photos that the OP doesn't like are not good photos from a compositional point of view.
    The first photo on the stairs is a family snapshot no more no less and it will have family memories but it's not and never will be a great photo no mater what camera it was taken with.

  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    Out of curiosity, I checked through an array of books by acknowledged masters for the topic of "sharpness." I have an extensive library, and wanted to confirm that I wasn't speaking incorrectly. These are the some of the photographers I referenced: Horenstein (two volumes), Callahan (two volumes), HCB (three volumes), Kertesz (two volumes), Friedlander (two volumes), Koudelka (two volumes), David Hurn, DeWolfe, Man Ray, Eugene Smith, Fred Picker (two volumes), Robert Doisneau, Joel-Peter Witkin (three volumes)...

    Only DeWolfe even mentions sharpness in his last volume on photography, and he does so only to emphasize that the typical universal sharpening applied by so many digital photographers is wildly wrong and not in harmony with what the human eye sees. Otherwise, none of the others mentions the word. Instead, they discuss timing, composition, geometry, light, color (occasionally), contrast, exposure, and above all, hard work. The honest ones also mention "luck."

    Great photographs result from a masterful use of these elements. That is why so many of the seminal works of the 20th century were taken with relatively low-tech 35mm film cameras. Go back and look at the work of Callahan and HCB: no one in their right mind criticizes their work as being poor because its not sharp. It's a ludicrous thought. Instead, their work sings because of the subtle strength of the compositions, the play of light, the extraordinary luck they had time and time again in capturing seminal events. Using today's criteria their lens sucked, but that never occurred to them. Not one of them ever whined about their Leicas and Contaxes and Hasselblads are being less than tack sharp. They knew better, and honestly, were after far bigger game.
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  • pcg said:

    Out of curiosity, I checked through an array of books by acknowledged masters for the topic of "sharpness." I have an extensive library, and wanted to confirm that I wasn't speaking incorrectly. These are the some of the photographers I referenced: Horenstein (two volumes), Callahan (two volumes), HCB (three volumes), Kertesz (two volumes), Friedlander (two volumes), Koudelka (two volumes), David Hurn, DeWolfe, Man Ray, Eugene Smith, Fred Picker (two volumes), Robert Doisneau, Joel-Peter Witkin (three volumes)...

    Only DeWolfe even mentions sharpness in his last volume on photography, and he does so only to emphasize that the typical universal sharpening applied by so many digital photographers is wildly wrong and not in harmony with what the human eye sees. Otherwise, none of the others mentions the word. Instead, they discuss timing, composition, geometry, light, color (occasionally), contrast, exposure, and above all, hard work. The honest ones also mention "luck."

    Great photographs result from a masterful use of these elements. That is why so many of the seminal works of the 20th century were taken with relatively low-tech 35mm film cameras. Go back and look at the work of Callahan and HCB: no one in their right mind criticizes their work as being poor because its not sharp. It's a ludicrous thought. Instead, their work sings because of the subtle strength of the compositions, the play of light, the extraordinary luck they had time and time again in capturing seminal events. Using today's criteria their lens sucked, but that never occurred to them. Not one of them ever whined about their Leicas and Contaxes and Hasselblads are being less than tack sharp. They knew better, and honestly, were after far bigger game.




    That's all great except that artistic sensibilities change. In all media. Otherwise painters would paint the same style over and over and photographers would do the same. Art would be boring. The sharpness that cameras are able to produce today simply were not available back then. So it is no surprise that sharpness wasn't valued so highly. Today however, the images that even pocket cameras can produce are simply amazing. Fujifilm's SuperCCD HR was an incredible sensor that today still has not been equaled in terms of clarity, color, and sharpness. While the EXR sensor, in both CCD and CMOS formats has done well with dynamic range, sharpness and resolution has clearly taken a back seat.

    Today's cameras, along with incredible lenses from Fujinon, Zeiss,etc... produce amazingly sharp images. It takes good equipment and excellent technique to produce a sharp image. This is very much a valid art form, no matter what history says about it.

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    And a freezer full of Fuji Neopan Acros and 400H film.

    Clearly someone who hates Fujifilm and their products.

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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    Sharpness is a tool only. And as the two photos used in the original post attest, sharpness has little to do with the strength of a photo. Today we expect photos to be sharp, but that's far more a commercial concern than an artistic one. Some of our finest "art" photographers have no more concern about sharpness than photographers 25-75 years ago. Let's get real. Painting technique changes too, but the same elements of light and composition underlie good painting today as they did centuries before.

    Sorry, but it's an conceit of modernity to believe that basic artistic rules, or as you characterize it, "artistic sensibilities," have changed.
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  • If you think sharpness is not valued today you clearly have not spent much time amongst professional artists.

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    And a freezer full of Fuji Neopan Acros and 400H film.

    Clearly someone who hates Fujifilm and their products.

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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    FPC, I've spent most of my life around them. If you have as well, you know that the vision of what constitutes art among professional artists varies considerably. As I noted before, sharpness as a criteria is a given among professional photographers. But it's not amongst artists. Different worlds, different visions, differing standards.
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  • PCG thanks for the detailed study of sharpness and how it relates to history. Your research means a lot to me. I don't really consider my self a photographer. I just want to take some nice photos of my family. With that being said, this whole discussion raised my awareness about composition. It seems that I may need to read up on taking nicely framed photographs. Thanks again.
  • pcg said:

    FPC, I've spent most of my life around them. If you have as well, you know that the vision of what constitutes art among professional artists varies considerably. As I noted before, sharpness as a criteria is a given among professional photographers. But it's not amongst artists. Different worlds, different visions, differing standards.



    I know several fine art photographers, who shoot landscapes, and their lens of choice is the Carl Zeiss 21mm Distagon. They choose that lens for it's amazing sharpness. To say that fine art photographers do not value sharpness is completely false. Some do, some don't.

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    And a freezer full of Fuji Neopan Acros and 400H film.

    Clearly someone who hates Fujifilm and their products.

    MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz, 8 gigs RAM
  • PCG thanks for the detailed study of sharpness and how it relates to history. Your research means a lot to me. I don't really consider my self a photographer. I just want to take some nice photos of my family. With that being said, this whole discussion raised my awareness about composition. It seems that I may need to read up on taking nicely framed photographs. Thanks again.



    No question, that framing is far more important than sharpness. You can work on your compositional skills and then once at a superior level, find that sharpness is more critical.


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    And a freezer full of Fuji Neopan Acros and 400H film.

    Clearly someone who hates Fujifilm and their products.

    MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz, 8 gigs RAM
  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992


    That's all great except that artistic sensibilities change. In all media. Otherwise painters would paint the same style over and over and photographers would do the same. Art would be boring.


    techniques may change, but composition is constant.
    much like music, theres notes and chords that go together and those that don't, regardless of the instrument.
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  • FinePixCameraFinePixCamera
    Posts: 1,926
    mattmaber said:


    That's all great except that artistic sensibilities change. In all media. Otherwise painters would paint the same style over and over and photographers would do the same. Art would be boring.


    techniques may change, but composition is constant.
    much like music, theres notes and chords that go together and those that don't, regardless of the instrument.


    False. The music of the late '60s, particularly in the jazz world shattered the idea of composition as well as traditional harmonics. Late John Coltrane, or Sun Ra, were worlds different from those who came before them.



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    And a freezer full of Fuji Neopan Acros and 400H film.

    Clearly someone who hates Fujifilm and their products.

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  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    @FinePixCamera im gonna have to disagree with you there, the rules still apply as to what notes go well together to make a pleasant sound and imbue a certain emotion.
    Exactly the same goes with photos.

    But hey, no surprise there as you seem to be here purely for an argument.
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  • FinePixCameraFinePixCamera
    Posts: 1,926
    mattmaber said:

    @FinePixCamera im gonna have to disagree with you there, the rules still apply as to what notes go well together to make a pleasant sound and imbue a certain emotion.
    Exactly the same goes with photos.

    But hey, no surprise there as you seem to be here purely for an argument.



    No, I just understand the history of music. You clearly do not. Go grab a copy of John Coltrane's album Interstellar Space. Try and wrap your head around that one. Maybe some enlightenment will enter you and you can cease with your trolling attacks on me.
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    And a freezer full of Fuji Neopan Acros and 400H film.

    Clearly someone who hates Fujifilm and their products.

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  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    @FinePixCamera so what you're saying is he doesn't follow any rules of good composition built up over centuries? uh huh.
    THis doesn't change btw, that some of the above photos look nice and some do not.
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  • NettlesNettles
    Posts: 91
    Years ago I spent some time mulling over the subject of visual composition – I’d probably been better off out shooting somewhere, but anyway!

    The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that compositional skills are the product of instinct and intuition. We buy our cameras, read our textbooks and get an prolonged earful of well-meaning guidance from visiting (and well-paid) pros in our camera clubs and so on. But really, if it’s not in us as a natural gift we will struggle to ‘see’ a pleasing arrangement of content within the frame.

    The evidence for this is seen (IMHO) when we don’t really have time to think – kind of shooting-from-the-hip scenario. It’s then creative instinct kicks in rather than the dry theory we get through education.

    As for sharpness, well it counts most in quality prints – but even then I’d say it’s obvious it’s secondary to content and composition. On-screen presentation is pretty meaningless and misleading when it comes to sharpness.

    Sweating over 100% detail numbed my brain for several years until I wised-up!
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  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    Nettles said:


    The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that compositional skills are the product of instinct and intuition.


    but that comes from having a natural eye for a good shot anyway - which not everyone has.
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  • NettlesNettles
    Posts: 91
    Yes, indeed Matt, that's right. So do you think it's possible to fully 'teach' composition?
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  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    @Nettles i think yes you can teach the theory of composition how ever i think its fair to say that to truly master an art you have to be able to break the rules intelligently as @FinePixCamera maybe suggests.
    And to do that you really need a natural skill in the art - or an eye for a decent photo in our case.
    SO yes and no is the answer lol. - imho.
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  • NettlesNettles
    Posts: 91
    :D
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  • FinePixCameraFinePixCamera
    Posts: 1,926
    mattmaber said:

    @FinePixCamera so what you're saying is he doesn't follow any rules of good composition built up over centuries? uh huh.
    THis doesn't change btw, that some of the above photos look nice and some do not.



    Exactly. Composition is blown to pieces by Coltrane and his peers. Grab a copy of it and listen. It's not my cup of tea, but Coltrane's legacy is massive, absolutely massive. An entire school of Free Jazz built up around ground breaking stuff like this. Sun Ra, Sam Rivers, Ornette Coleman,....

    Wikipedia says it better than I can:

    "Free jazz uses jazz idioms, and like jazz it places an aesthetic premium on expressing the "voice" or "sound" of the musician, as opposed to the classical tradition in which the performer is seen more as expressing the thoughts of the composer. Many free jazz musicians, notably Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane, use harsh overblowing techniques or otherwise elicit unconventional sounds from their instruments. Earlier jazz styles typically were built on a framework of song forms, such as the twelve-bar blues or the 32-bar AABA popular song form, with a set framework of chord changes. In free jazz, the dependence on a fixed and pre-established form is eliminated, and the role of improvisation is correspondingly increased. As guitarist Marc Ribot has remarked, free jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler, "although they were freeing up certain strictures of bebop, were in fact each developing new structures of composition."[1]"
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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    None of this has anything to do with the OP's issue regarding sharpness. And I suppose the point of using Coltrane's music (that supposedly blows composition to pieces) is to stake the claim that therefore photography has similarly made an abrupt shift from the past. Did I get that right? If so, the musical reference is so far from analogous to photographic composition as to be bordering on nonsensical.

    I agree that Coltrane's music differs in structure from much of the popular music that preceded it, but it has deep, many decades-old antecedents in earlier jazz and of course in African music. It was far from new, although white Americans--and later Europeans--found it new because they were largely unacquainted with its origins.

    Most important though, musical composition, aside from using the same word, does not have the same meaning as photographic composition. One refers to the structure of notes and rhythm, while the latter refers to underlying geometry and the play of light. One is audible; one is visual.

    As Matt states, in photography (and in all visual arts), "techniques may change, but composition is constant." Humans are hardwired to respond to certain visual patterns, as they are to certain musical structures. But the two are not directly related, and raising the issue of mid 20th c. jazz to prove that composition "is blown to pieces" is mistaken, and misleading.
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  • mattmabermattmaber
    Posts: 3,992
    @pcg +1
    i think my musical analogy was taken too literally.
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  • pcgpcg
    Posts: 1,770
    lol!
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  • FinePixCameraFinePixCamera
    Posts: 1,926
    mattmaber said:

    @pcg +1
    i think my musical analogy was taken too literally.



    Look at anyone who dramatically alters their images in Photoshop. There are a select group of photographers who use their photograph only as a starting point. They then take an enormous journey through Photoshop. These images leave the realm of reality quite quickly and take on a surreal appearance, often going beyond that into fantasy. These people have no concept of composition in the traditional sense and are not even close to be restrained by the old concepts and "rules". Very similar to Coltrane and Free Jazz. The analogy is spot on.

    Haven't you ever studied a Salvator Dali painting?? Clearly pcg hasn't since this entire concept is beyond him but Dali's a pretty famous artist that shows quite clearly that composition rules are often tossed out the window with great success.

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